[Lumi#5] Eleonora Viganò: Limiting the user’s good life while aiming to increase well-being. An overlooked ethical issue of digital well-being technologies
11 November 2021
Campus Est USI-SUPSI, Lugano-Viganello, room D1.01 (Sector D, first floor)
Digital well-being technologies (DWTs) are systems aiming to increase an aspect of well-being (e.g., mental health, physical wellness) of users by means of personalised outputs. In this talk, I will deal with an ethical issue of two types of DWTs – recommendation systems significantly influencing one’s life and digital well-being apps for healthy adults – that so far has been overlooked: their impact on the user’s good life, namely, a life that is good for the user. I will show that since these DWTs are mainly based on the user’s narrowly defined utility function and past or similar users’ preferences, they impoverish the diversity and novelty of the user’s digital environment in terms of stimuli and opportunities. Then, I will contend that a homogeneous and immutable environment limits the individual’s good life because in such an environment, some factors that are essential to any good life are reduced: life experience, self-knowledge, and authenticity. Finally, I will outline the user’s right to an open present, which is a moral requirement for DWTs that protects the user’s good life from the negative effects of DWTs.

The Speaker

Eleonora Viganò is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine at the University of Zurich and Executive Manager of the ELSI Task Force of the Swiss National Research Program 75 “Big Data”. She is currently working on the moral aspects of socially acceptable AI. Her research interests are one’s moral relationship with oneself, the neuroscientific basis of moral decision-making, and the ethical issues of digital technologies for well-being improvement.